Summer’s here, school’s out, and the kids are at home looking to binge whatever shows they find. The problem is: no one knows what to watch. They’re not satisfied with anything you offer them on T.V. and you don’t want them looking up shows like Game of Thrones, out of boredom. At this point, you start to realize that your children are sick of seeing the same watered-down material they get for their age. Kids want to experience the same sense of realism that we get in our content. This is where Netflix’s original series, The Dragon Prince (2018) comes in as the show gives them the believable stories they desire.
The Dragon Prince contains a variety of real-world topics that our world has only begun to explore in modern media. The series touches upon subjects that are mature for the younger viewers this day and age. The show proves to viewers that this mindset is unfair to children as adults continue to underestimate their maturity in spite of their vast accomplishments. There are several instances in this series in which it’s the children who outsmart the adults around them. It’s always kids who see their situation better than adults do, and it’s often their solutions which bring the best outcome. While audience members don’t need to be children to enjoy this show, The Dragon Prince does an amazing job of introducing controversial topics to the younger generation.
What Is The Dragon Prince?
The Dragon Prince is a tale about some kids trying to return a missing dragon egg home, in order to stop a centuries-old war from continuing between their people. Since the start of time, there existed six forms of magic that attuned with the earth’s nature. The elves called these magical affinities “primal magic,” as only those who channeled the earth’s elements could use them.
Humans and elves once coexisted in the continent of Xadia, until a human mage one day discovered a seventh mysterious form of dark magic. Dark magic requires the horrific practice of sacrificing all forms of life; the elves excommunicated the humans from their lands in fear of what they could bring upon them. They used their guardian, Thunder (the Dragon King), to send them west of their borders. Terrified of the dragon who guarded the elven border, humans lived their lives in exile.
For a time, the elves demanded to split the colonies that worked as their guardian protected the borders undefeated. However, the humans who remained unsatisfied with their banishment eventually used their dark magic to slay the dragon king and his egg in retaliation. Believing that the guardian and his heir are slain on both sides of the fight, an all-out war breaks between the two species after years of tension. That is, until one day, a group of unlikely kids stumble upon the presumed dead heir of the Dragon King and decide to return it to the elves to end the war. It’s now up to them to return the prince home and stop what’s happening between their people.
Children & The Media
There’s no doubt that things such as Netflix and Youtube are becoming an increasing part of our everyday lives. With every new generation coming into our world, more children are born into households that rely on the internet and media as a form of entertainment and communication. Many are concerned that the growing presence of technology in our children’s lives is affecting their views of reality. However, depending on how we take control of the situation, this is not necessarily a bad thing for the next generation to have. These information sources can serve as a way for kids to learn about the real world, without having to experience it firsthand.
The media is an opportunity for parents and caregivers of the digital age to introduce their children to sensitive content. They should use the media as a tool to help their children question the content they receive. Especially since problems such as poverty, bullying, and mental health are now becoming widespread dilemmas that affect those their age. It’s better for kids to identify these problems sooner so they can work to better themselves with this knowledge. Adults should take control of their child’s televised information and help them gain an understanding of what they watch.
The Problems With Censorship In Kid’s Shows
Let’s face it, we live in an era of censorship and sensitivity. We try to shield our children from things we don’t want influencing or traumatizing them. As a result of this, we take away their ability to decide for themselves what’s necessary for their experience. In other words, we deprive them of the chance to develop their own understanding of what’s “good” for them. While this decision appears admirable in words, I’m uncertain if it’s beneficial to them in the long run.
It’s true that we should keep subjects such as violence, sex, and profanity from children until they’re old enough to understand what goes on in those situations. But other than that, we’re overdoing it with our attempts of sheltering them from the things that are too “mature” for them to handle. We should allow kids to choose what they consume in the media so long as they have adult supervision and consent. We can’t hide ourselves from every problem we encounter in real life, so why should we do the same with our children’s source of information and make them believe that they can?
How Censorship Can Ruin Things
Does anyone remember the time when 4Kids Entertainment was still around? 4Kids was once a notorious television company that was known for producing inaccurate anime dubs and heavily censored shows. They did this so they could maintain the program’s general ratings (through American standards) and appeal to younger audience members. This is why the early iterations of shows like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh had several changes to their content. The company feared that these shows would confuse or traumatize children, as few would understand the content.
These anime shows had many scenes depicting nudity and violence, along with cultural differences. Several character names and designs were edited because of this and a lot of scenes were removed from the series. Their plot became inconsistent because of this, and a lot of important details got altered to keep things “child-friendly.” The company censored everything to keep the targeted audience “happy.” The decision left many viewers unclear on what transpired in the show’s following episodes or seasons, as a lot of gaps were made to the story. While the company is no longer active in today’s world, its legacy still remains criticized over the internet.
Why Transparency Works Best For Children
Anime fans who grew up with 4kids criticize the company for their unnecessary actions years later. Many of the shows translated by the company were never released to viewers in any form outside of their edited versions — even for at home viewing. This leaves fans feeling deprived of the chance to experience their stories in its purest form. The company’s idea of providing “age-appropriate” material often comes at the cost of giving them full control of their viewer’s experience. 4kids’ decisions on censorship mislead and deceived several children on what happened in their shows. The company’s actions took away the viewers’ choice in deciding for themselves whether their censorship was necessary for our experience.
As unfortunate as it is, the subjects we hide from our children do exist in our world. It makes little sense for us to ignore these problems and act as if they don’t. The people we love will die one day, accidents can happen, and “bad people” do manipulate and abuse others. It’s incredibly dangerous for anyone to believe otherwise. The more we hide these critical issues from our kids, the more vulnerable we’re making them for their transition to adulthood.
The only way we can effectively “help” our children during these moments is to prepare them early on. While we can’t stop them from experiencing bad situations, we can still take part in how and when they learn of these subjects. Instead of pretending that these problems won’t happen to them, we should find ways to introduce these topics to kids and discuss them in some form.
How The Dragon Prince Is Changing This
In recent times, our views of censorship are starting to change in our world. Society has been reinventing ways to introduce mature topics without the need for censorship. If we take a look at some of the newer Disney projects like Big Hero 6 and Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, the company has gotten better at including sensitive material to their stories. Their projects offer children new ways of dealing with emotional grief and conflict. Pixar films, especially, are successful in portraying the common problems of children in ways that only they can relate to.
Netflix, as of late, has started providing shows that offer kids a chance at forming their own opinions. While many can compare The Dragon Prince to shows like Voltron or Avatar, the series has a way of portraying real-world issues for younger viewers. These mature topics can be clearly understood by them, in spite of the fictional setting. The show offers kids a new view of common “real-life” scenarios that’s different from what we see in everyday media. The series helps us learn that there’s more to family and duty than what we often conceive at face-value.
The Capabilities Of Children
It’s no mistake that we underestimate the capabilities of children. We often forget that kids can read between the lines of difficult situations just as easily as adults do, so we undermine them with our actions. When it comes to their best interests in mind, we always assume that our choices provide them with a better outcome. In this case, we make the decisions for them before they have a chance to speculate on an answer. This causes them to develop a blind reliance on others to decide everything for them as they’re uncertain about what to do for themselves. Even if the answers before them are the correct one.
In The Dragon Prince, adults frequently leave children to their own devices without any supervision. They have to make the hard decisions that benefit both them and their group’s survival. While these decisions may not always come from the best choices, the characters still use these decisions as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. This is especially important for when they’re figuring out who to trust in their lives. Betrayal and manipulation are huge factors in this show that’s important to consider in real life. Especially, since, those close to us won’t always have our best interests at heart.
Family In The Dragon Prince
This series has a wonderful way of portraying family relationships that’s unlike anything we normally see in the media. In the series, blood alone doesn’t define familial relations. These connections are instead forged by the roles the characters take on for each other, out of their sense of responsibility and care for them. The relationship Callum (the hero of this series) has with his step-dad, King Harrow is a distinctive example of this.
Since we’re used to fearing them in tales such as “Cinderella,” many assume that characters have bad relationships with their step-family. However, Callum isn’t treated any differently by his brother or the king. Unlike his half-brother, Ezran; Callum wasn’t born into the royal family. The King instead adopted him into it when he married Callum’s mother during the protagonist’s childhood years. In fact, both of his biological parents were already gone by the start of the show. Any mention of his real father also remains insignificant throughout the first two seasons. Callum instead acknowledges Harrow as his “father” and openly addresses him as such, despite others reminding him that their connection is only that of a “step” relationship.
The American Dream
Families in the media are often portrayed through the characters living in some household version of the “American Dream.” Every family member in the protagonist’s life is alive and content with living the roles society assigns them. The father is the provider of the family who makes the calls for the household. The siblings (if present) are blissfully unaware of anything occurring outside their bubble, and the mother is the general caretaker.
Basically, the media portrays “family” as the idea of living in a complete household consisting of both parents with the same social class and race. When it comes to the media, in which children are the main characters, the parental figures are the adults whom they admire. This doesn’t always mean that they see their actual parents as “parents” (the adults to turn to when life feels rough). The main characters, orphaned or not, are frequently living in comfortable households where their families are rarely involved in their lives.
This is because the characters are often too preoccupied with trying to free themselves from their redundant lifestyle, instead of spending time with their “lame” family. Their desire for some chaos in their lives often results in them hiding their true selves from their families. They don’t believe their actions will be “understood” in any way, and it’s up to them to change their family’s view of them. They need to “work” their way into acceptance by those who love them.
Every Family Is Different
Real-life families don’t “function” as neatly in the real world as they do in the media, nor do they come with the same packaged-deal. An average household can be as dysfunctional as a “broken” one, and in turn, they can be just as happy. In the end, neither versions matter so long as each person supports each other. However, this way of life is the primary model that kids wind up striving for when they grow up. While the protagonist may not be “satisfied” with the life laid before them, this is the life that many see on television and constantly wish to have. This “perfect” lifestyle is what shapes the audience’s understanding of what all “families” should be like in reality.
There seems to be a misconception in our world, that leads people to believe that only those who live in normal households will likely develop a “normal” life in the long run. You’d need a “complete” family like the ones we see on T.V. in order to live a fulfilled life. But the reality is that living in a “mix-matched” or “broken” household doesn’t make your family any less real. Nor does it mean that they care about you any less. The Dragon Prince shows us that you don’t need to live like the protagonist to consider your life a “happy” one. You just need to make the most out of the one you have.
No One Is Flawless
Physical and mental disabilities exist in our world in many ways. Usually, people avoid including these topics in kid’s shows because they fear the knowledge may upset them. However, these issues are still an important part of our everyday lives. And, fortunately for us, that’s starting to change. By giving us several impaired characters, The Dragon Prince plays a critical role in teaching these sensitive issues to kids. This series not only exposes us to an entire species of four-fingered elves and a blind pirate, but we’re also given the rare opportunity of seeing a deaf character.
One of the biggest health concerns in our world is the increased spread of hearing loss. Hearing impairment is a major problem for people these days as many of us are living in cities with a noisy environment. Sign language, especially, is becoming an essential skill to have in today’s world as more are at risk of growing deaf with each passing day. Rarely, do we ever discuss the importance of these issues among children? It’s not unheard of for kids to encounter deaf or mute people in public areas such as schools, but few continue to acknowledge these concerns in the mainstream media. The fact that this show gives a major character in the protagonist’s life a common impairment is rather amazing.
How The Dragon Prince Plays Things Differently
What differentiates The Dragon Prince‘s characters from other shows like it, is that their characters seem like real people. They all contain realistic flaws that come to people in everyday life. It doesn’t matter to the audience or the characters whether the person is physically “incomplete” or “whole.”
General Amaya’s unusual condition in the show appears as it’s a natural part of who she is as a person. They make her physical impairments believable as if audience members could meet people like her in everyday situations. Her being deaf in the series only highlights her personality. She’s able to convey her thoughts to others through facial expression and gestures. She does this without struggle, even though she has a translator for these situations. (The translator is more for the audience’s sake than hers.)
Amaya’s not bothered by her impairments because she’s supported by those she loves. She has adapted herself in a positive manner as she doesn’t let her flaws hinder her. In fact, she’s highly respected by others in spite of them. She let her true self shine throughout the series despite her lack of speech and ability to hear. And, to top it all off, her friends, soldiers, and family members all know how to read sign language. They use it as if it’s a normal part of their everyday lives. They all learned it at some point to help understand her so she doesn’t feel alienated.
Care To Show Your Kids The Dragon Prince?
The Dragon Prince is a great show for you to watch by yourself or with any younger relatives around the house. You can find the entire series available on Netflix. There are only two seasons out so far, and each season spans less than ten episodes. Each episode also isn’t any longer than twenty-six minutes. So there’s plenty of time for you to catch up on the story before the third season airs.
If you have any younger siblings or children who’re interested in anime, you can bond with them through this series. You can show the kids an episode a day, without any worry of leaving them glued to the screen; as there are decent stopping points near the end of every episode. Nothing leaves them hanging for a long period of time. The colorful visuals, fast-paced action sequences, and the enthralling story is a sure way to keep anyone’s attention. There are also plenty of mature details within the characters and the central plot that is just as appealing for adults as it is for younger viewers. However, there are still plenty of other stories out there for you to discover if you’re more interested in other types of entertainment.